What happens when marijuana possession and home-grow are legalized, but sales have not been regulated?
It could create an ideal environment for the black market to thrive. At least this is what some lawmakers in Virginia believe and claim it's already happening.
In April 2021, Virginia became the first state in the South to legalize adult-use cannabis when lawmakers approved cannabis bills SB 1406 and HB 2312 proposed by Governor Ralph Northam (D).
About a year and a half later, it's become obvious that without regulated sales, illegal sales are booming, reports News Channel 11. What now? There’s no backing down, it seems.
Delegate Terry G. Kilgore (R-Gate City), the majority leader in the Virginia House, told the news channel that they need to work out a resolution.
“We’re going to have to try to work together to try to come up with a solution to try to move forward in a way that would help us make sure that we know where this marijuana is coming from, from seed to sale,” Kilgore said.
Kilgore’s move to address the issue follows the introduction of a proposal by a GOP regulator, under which a commercial market would kick off in 2024.
Keith Hodges' (R-Gloucester) bill seeks to amend regulatory provisions that were a part of the cannabis legislation signed by Gov. Northam in 2021.
Even though Hodges' HB 1464 represents a step toward launching recreational sales, certain provisions of the measure are coming under scrutiny by cannabis advocates. Those include the elimination of social equity elements, removing languages demanding multi-license holders present their plan for promoting diversity and equity and deleting provisions requiring 20% of tax revenue to be allocated to the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund.
Although not everyone in the cannabis camp agrees. For example, JM Pedini, NORML's development director, praised Hodges' proposal.
"This is a smart bill carefully constructed by Delegate Hodges for the best chance of success in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates," Pedini said.
It seems that having any kind of sales regulations is better than having none.
Marijuana & Weapons In The Neighborhood
What about the neighboring Tennessee?
According to the news report, law enforcement is dealing with quite a different set of challenges.
Criminal justice professor, Eric Stanton, noted that his contacts have not necessarily found more people possessing cannabis but rather they're seeing more people in possession of weed and other drugs as well as weapons, which is illegal under federal law.
“Say somebody from Tennessee who is you know, legal to carry a handgun weapon, whatever they want to, and they go over into Virginia,” Stanton said. “Regardless if they have that weapon on them or not, buy marijuana legally, and then bring it back and then pick back up their weapons, start carrying it
now, that’s become illegal.”
Rep. Scotty Campbell (R-Mountain City) told the news channel that it would be better if the state followed federal policy around marijuana.
“I don’t know how much we should be talking about marijuana in Tennessee and Virginia, as long as it’s a schedule one drug, which is the same as heroin nationwide, which applies to Tennessee, Virginia, and beyond,” said Campbell.
Stanton, on the other hand, believes that marijuana legalization in Tennessee is not a question of if, but when.
Recent Cannabis & Hemp Milestones In Tennessee
In December, Tennessee regulators announced their plan to file new legislation to legalize recreational marijuana. Rep. Bob Freeman (D-Nashville) is behind the effort alongside state Sen. Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville).
“It’s a full legalization of cannabis across the state,” Freeman said.
Campbell pointed out that Tennessee needs to stop missing out on tax revenue from cannabis sales.
“Let’s not delude ourselves that people aren’t crossing the border and getting cannabis from other states. Of course, they are,” Campbell said. “So, that’s just income we’re missing out on.”
Meanwhile, Tennessee is investing in its hemp market.
In June of last year, the Hemp Alliance of Tennessee partnered with the Department of Agriculture on a study to examine the feasibility of hemp fiber production for the automotive industry and other sectors of the economy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently granted $5 million to support the development of the hemp industry in Tennessee.
Photo: Benzinga edit with images by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA on Pexels, mwewering and PeterPike on Pixabay
© 2023 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
BENZINGA CANNABIS CONFERENCE
Meet the biggest cannabis industry players and make deals that will push the industry forward.
Featuring live company presentations, insider panels, and unmatched access to networking, the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference is where cannabis executives and entrepreneurs meet.
Join us April 11-12, 2023 at Fontainebleau Miami Beach in sunny Florida.